On the way to the Park
Nick Jacobs (April 2, 2012)
After a quick shower for the toddler and her big sister and a wee bit of wardrobe trauma – “But Poppa, I need to wear my special Fairy dress!” – we belted, buckled and strapped everybody in and headed off to their favorite morning breakfast spot, Eat 'n Park.
Initially, it seemed like the kids thought the restaurant had tricked them. They began running from corner to corner to see where that “make-your-wish” fountain was hidden. Then the desperation began to set in, and they became so fretful that they wanted to throw their coins into the potted plants that were placed carefully in the former fountain’s location.
When we questioned the hostess regarding what had happened to the coin-toss destination, she expressed her regrets that the fountain was broken.
Next, the hostess picked up three kid placemat/menus, three packs of impossible-to-open crayons, and we headed through what could only be described as a scene from “The Last Breakfast.”
The place was so full that I began to wonder if CNN were broadcasting BREAKING NEWS that an incoming comet would end life as we know it, and everyone had decided to have one last meal. There was one booth open across the aisle from a couple of former colleagues who gave me that knowing smile that said, “OMG, are you crazy?”
After watching all of the wait staff hustle from table to table, booth to booth, and menu to menu, ours finally showed up to take our drink orders. She informed me that she could not provide me with either an early morning screwdriver or a bloody Mary, so I went directly for an IV of caffeine.
As she queried the kids, two immediately ordered chocolate milk. The third, however, put her head down and said, “I don’t know what I want to drink.” It was not a good start. We ended up with orange juice, which she rejected because she detected pulp. Then we got chocolate milk, which was also rejected. Finally, white milk became the drink du jour.
The two oldest kids wanted to have the breakfast buffet. The little one, on the other hand, only wanted a dippy egg and slausage. (Her pronunciation.) This, of course, would turn out to be a complete catastrophe because the breakfast buffet was instantaneous, and the menu order was one of hundreds that would have to be prepared over the next 20 minutes.
As we made our way through the buffet line, (I was the dish balancer), they loaded their plates with cottage cheese, home fries, watermelon, pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and a bowl of cereal.
The little one and I just looked on as the other two began to consume their feasts. We tried to keep busy. She peeled the covers from her crayons and broke the wax sticks in half. I kept pouring those little creamers into my coffee and then stuffing the containers inside each other. Then I collected the straw covers and stuffed them in there, too.
The little one cried periodically, but finally both girls ended up on my lap as our meals arrived. I gave away several parts of my meal as the younger one's appetite changed.
As we wrapped up our breakfast, the waitress brought cookies, bracelets and tattoos. Then we headed directly to the playground at Rec Park where my every muscle, bone and tendon was tested chasing, balancing and holding the kids.
Gotta love those 90-plus degree days and anti-bacterial soap.